Planting With Ponder

By Jess M. Burkhart

It is safe to say that Rex Ponder’s roots run deep in the area of horticulture. Born and raised in the nursery business, he boasts decades of experience in the field as well as a degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University, where his brother is a professor in the same field. Although the family eventually sold the business, Ponder continued on his own in the field, eventually opening a landscape business.

Now in the golden years of his career, he enjoys managing The Garden Center at Auburn’s own University Ace Hardware Store. Customers from all over the region bring their horticultural questions and conundrums, along with actual plant cuttings and even the occasional soil sample, for his review. Whatever the situation, he fields their queries with a patience and kindness that have made him a perennial favorite among customers and co-workers alike.

University Ace Hardware owner, David Fichtner, confirms, “Here at the store, all of our associates strive daily to provide the very best in customer service and support to our wonderful customers. Rex is a perfect example of that type of support. He genuinely loves to help people and he is such a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We are blessed to have him as an integral part of our team.”

Ace customer Mardi Rochwell says, “Rex Ponder both planned and developed The Mises Institute’s grounds and gardens (located on Magnolia Avenue) back in 1997. Rex and University Ace have worked with us on multiple occasions and always with such heart- warming enthusiasm. He is a walking plant encyclopedia, not to mention an all-around awesome person!”

For those not able to meet or shop in person with him, Ponder offers the following tips for garden
preparation as we head into the spring planting season:

TIP NUMBER ONE:

Prevent Weeds Before They Start! According to Ponder, late winter is the perfect time to begin pre-emergent applications. These
chemical additives work to thwart weed growth in advance, making growing season much more enjoyable!

TIP NUMBER TWO:

Be Patient In Your Planting! Ponder reminds us to resist the urge to plant too soon. Instead he cautions, “Do not to let the occasional warm day fool you. February is still a bit too soon to plant most things.” He recommends utilizing those unseasonably warm days for flowerbed prepa- ration, being sure to work in all soil amendments and additives. This tip may not apply to those with greenhouses or access to special outdoor insulating garden covers, but as a rule, it is typically too soon to plant.

TIP NUMBER THREE:

Plan, Plan, Plan! He further recommends using the winter season for planning purposes. For instance, staking out flowerbed locations, conducting soil testing and noting the light exposure in various areas of your property. Careful planning will help narrow your selections for purchase and ensure your ultimate success!

Ponder’s Picks for Late Winter/ Early Spring

Garden favorites such as Broccoli, Collards, Radishes, Beets, Turnips and other vegetables are ideal choices for this season.

Ponder’s Picks for Spring

Floral staples such as Zinnias, Petunias, Impatiens and so many more!

For Additional Information, visit Ponder most weekdays, during standard business hours at The University Ace Hardware in Auburn, where he is happy to assist with all your planting needs! You can also tune in to his two weekly radio pro- grams airing every Thursday. The first begins at
8:15 a.m. where he joins Ben Taylor, host of Ben & Friends, on Wings 94.3 FM. Ponder also appears with Zac Blackerby, host of Auburn-Opelika This Morning on NewsTalk WANI 98.7 FM every Thursday, starting at 8:35 a.m. for his “Planting with Ponder” segment, presented by University Ace Hardware.